The 2017 Japanese Film Festival is running from the 1st of October through til the 3rd of December around Australia. One of the many great film festivals to be running in Australia, the Japanese Film Festival has been going for over twenty years.
The extensive array of films on offer can be a little daunting, but rest assured, pretty much any film that you catch at the festival will be a winner. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to attend one of the screenings of a Seijun Suzuki classic. For me, Suzuki was my first real deep dive into Japanese cinema – his worked opened my eyes up to the complexities within the landscape of Japanese cinema.
Thanks to the Japanese Film Festival, his work can be presented in its intended formats alongside a wide, varied array of films. Even though Japanese cinema is becoming more widely available throughout Australian cinemas, there is still a place for a curated festival such as this one.
Make sure to head over to the website for further information about screening times.
In the lead up to the festival, I ran a few questions by program coordinator, Margarett Cortez, to find out a bit about this years festival:
What goes in to creating and curating a festival like the Japanese Film Festival?
The film watching happens out of business hours, while the logistics are organised in the office. So it’s a lot of time and devotion to Japanese cinema! It’s important for us to approach the films from a certain distance though, and program a good mix of films that are interesting and relevant to an Australian audience. But we also like to program films that will show a facet of Japan that we normally don’t see as outsiders.
What are the highlights for this year’s festival?
I think the Comedy selection this year is definitely worth exploring for those who are still deciding on what to watch. It’s the first time that we’re screening such a wide range, from surreal, dark comedy (A Beautiful Star) to absurdist satire (Teiichi –Battle of Supreme High-)! For those in Sydney and Melbourne, the special guest sessions are also a must see as we’re inviting some interesting filmmakers and actors, including Sairi Ito and Mugi Kadowaki who are at the helm of a rising next-generation of screen talents.
For a director as diverse and prolific as Seijun Suzuki, how do you decide on which films of his to screen?
The JFF Classics program which will feature the Suzuki films are all in 35mm. So the material availability already culls a lot of titles because it’s getting increasingly hard to come across 35mm in good condition. In terms of narrowing down which films to screen, we decide on a combination of popular titles, award-winning works and, if we can, throw in a lesser known film.
Where do you see the place of the Japanese Film Festival in the array of Australian film festivals?
JFF is definitely the only festival offering the latest, quality films from Japan, both mainstream and arthouse. No feature film in the main program is more than 18 months old. For example, this year, we’re screening Birds Without Names which just premiered at Toronto International Film Festival this September.
With its 21st year, the Japanese Film Festival heads into a new decade of festival fun – where do you see the festival heading in the future and what are the dream projects for the festival?
As more Japanese films get national releases, we feel a sense of accomplishment in fostering an interest in this type of foreign cinema. But the festival will go on and we’ll keep introducing Japanese films that we have limited access to here in Australia. In the future, it would be great to build an industry component to the festival that will see Japanese filmmakers and Australian filmmakers engage with each other! As well as host Q&A programs with director Naomi Kawase and actor Tadanobu Asano.